Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Fabulous Mr. Magic: Grover Washington, Jr. - Mister Magic (1974 - Released In 1975)

Grover Washington, Jr.

American jazz-funk / soul-jazz saxophonist, born 11 November 1943, Buffalo, New York, USA, died 17 December 1999, New York, USA.

Biography by Scott Yanow (AMG):
One of the most popular saxophonists of all time, Grover Washington, Jr. was long the pacesetter in his field. His roots were in R&B and soul-jazz organ combos, but he also fared very well on the infrequent occasions when he played straight-ahead jazz. A highly influential player, Washington pushed himself with the spontaneity and risk-taking of a masterful jazz musician.
Grover Washington, Jr.'s, father also played saxophone and was his first influence. The younger son started playing music when he was ten, and within two years was working in clubs. He picked up experience touring with the Four Clefs from 1959-1963 and freelancing during the next two years, before spending a couple years in the Army. He moved to Philadelphia in 1967, becoming closely identified with the city from then on, and worked with several organists, including Charles Earland and Johnny Hammond Smith, recording as a sideman for the Prestige label. His biggest break occurred in 1971, when Hank Crawford could not make it to a recording date for Creed Tasylor's Kudu label; Washington was picked as his replacement, and the result was Inner City Blues, a big seller. From then on he became a major name, particularly after recording 1975's Mister Magic and Feels So Good, and later 1980's Winelight; the latter included the Bill Withers hit "Just the Two of Us."
Although some of his recordings since then found him coasting a bit, Washington usually stretched himself in concert. He developed his own personal voices on soprano, tenor, alto, and even his infrequently-used baritone. Grover Washington Jr. recorded as a leader for Kudu, Motown, Elektra, and Columbia and made notable guest appearances on dozens of records ranging from pop to straightforward jazz. He died of a sudden heart attack on December 17, 1999 while taping an appearance on CBS television's The Saturday Early Show; Washington was 56. The posthumous Aria was issued early the following year.

Mister Magic front US
''Mister Magic''

( LP Kudu Records, 1974- Released in 1975 )
Catalog # KU 20

A1 Earth Tones 12:23
A2 Passion Flower 5:34
B1 Mister Magic 9:11
B2 Black Frost 6:07

Personnel & Credits:
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Grover Washington, Jr.
Arranged By, Conductor, Electric Piano, Piano – Bob James
Baritone Saxophone – Phil Bodner
Bass – Gary King (tracks: A2 to B2), Phil Upchurch (tracks: A1)
Cello – Alan Shulman, Charles McCracken
Drums – Harvey Mason
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm
Guitar – Eric Gale
Percussion – Ralph MacDonald
Producer – Creed Taylor
Tenor Saxophone – Jerry Dodgion
Trombone – Wayne Andre
Trombone [Bass] – Tony Studd
Viola – Al Brown, Manny Vardi
Violin – David Nadien, Harold Kohon, Harry Glickman, Harry Lookofsky, Joe Malin, Matthew Raimondi, Max Ellen, Paul Gershman

Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Recorded At – Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, November 1974.

More Release Info (Doug Payne's CTI-Kudu):
Note: According to MoJazz 31453-0103-2 [CD], Kudu KU-20 S1 was released February 7, 1975.

Issues: a-d on Kudu KU-20 S1, Kudu (Jap) GP-3009, Kudu (Jap) LAX-3212, Motown M5-175V1, Motown MOTD-5175 [CD], MOTD-8109 [CD], MoJazz 31453-0103-2 [CD], Motown (Jap) VIP-4133, Motown R32M-2005 [CD], MoJazz (Jap) POCT-5509 [CD], Universal (Jap) UCCU-5374 [CD].
Singles: c (3:19 edit) & d (3:12 edit) on Kudu KU-924 F [45]. c also on CTI (Du) MS 40 10 [12] (issued 1977).

Samplers: b also on Raven (Aus) RVCD-153 [CD] titled FEELS SO GOOD/A SECRET PLACE. c also on CTI CTS-2 S1 titled FIRE INTO MUSIC, CTI (Can) CTS-2 titled A TASTE OF CTI/KUDU, CTI (Eu) CTS-2 titled FIRE INTO MUSIC, CTI (Jap) GP 3037 titled FIRE INTO MUSIC, CTI (Jap) GEM 1225/6 titled CTI/KUDU CROSSOVER, CTI/Kudu (Hol) OM 777.018 titled FEELIN' ALLRIGHT and CTI (E) 2001 titled THE SOUND OF THINGS TO COME, Motown M9-961AZ titled ANTHOLOGY, Motown 5307ML titled GREATEST PERFORMANCES, Motown 012 157 617-2 [CD] titled THE BEST OF GROVER WASHINGTON/ MILLENNIUM COLLECTION: 20TH CENTURY MASTERS, Manteca (E) MANTDCD204 [CD] titled SMOOTH JAZZ: THE ESSENTIAL ALBUM, Global TV (E) RADCD129 [CD] titled THE VERY BEST OF JAZZ FUNK and Masterworks Jazz 88697-76821-2 [CD] titled CTI RECORDS: THE COOL REVOLUTION. c & d also on Motown M9-940AZ titled BADDEST, Motown 31453-0620-2 [CD] titled THE BEST OF GROVER WASHINGTON, JR. (title aka GROVER WASHINGTON, JR. ANTHOLOGY), Hip-o 012 153 888-2 [CD] titled ULTIMATE COLLECTION and Hip-o B0006073-02 [CD] titled GROVER WASHINGTON, JR. GOLD. d also on CTI (Jap) GXC-3001/2 titled FOUR FACES (as by Bob James) and Longfellow Music (no #) [CD promo] titled FUNK SAMPLER II.

Producer: Creed Taylor
Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Notes: Doug Ramsey
Jacket: Alen MacWeeney (photography). Bob Ciano (design).

Mister Magic back

''Mr. Magic''

Pure dark magic from Grover Washington – a record that was a megahit back in the 70s, but which still sounds amazing many decades later! There's a sound here that's completely sublime – and the album is to Grover's career what the first 2 CTI sets by Bob James were to his – a stretched-out, masterpiece of sublime jazzy energy – served up with a really spacious sound overall! Grover's sharp-edged sax is at the lead of the set – but the album's also awash in electric piano work from Bob James – and backings that are as lean, clean, and soulful as the best on CTI from the time. Titles include the killer "Black Frost" – a track that we never tire of – plus the hit "Mister Magic", and the cuts "Earth Tones" and "Passion Flower".
© 1996-2014, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

This is one of Grover Washington, Jr.'s best-loved recordings and considered a classic of r&bish jazz. All four songs (which includes Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower") are quite enjoyable but it is "Mister Magic" that really caught on as a major hit. Bob James provided the colorful if somewhat commercial arrangements, there are spots for guitarist Eric Gale, and Washington (mostly on tenor and soprano) is heard in particularly creative form. Highly recommended.
By Scott Yanow (AMG)

Mister Magic label

''Black Frost''

For anyone who enjoys taking bites from the now forbidden fruits of jazz, smooth jazz has probably crossed your palate once or twice. Just as rock music fans treat adult contemporary with certain disdain, so do jazz fans in regards to smooth. It is certainly easy to see why. The arrangements are flooded with lush pop undertones and probably even worse; the music lacks jazz's guttural attack. Smooth jazz self-destructed in a storm of cheesy synth and repetitive drum machine beats during the '80s... remember some of David Sanborn's later records-1988's Close-up-or the horrid comatose of Kenny G?
Before all this smooth had been an interesting and driven alternative to fusion. Once the sugar coating is stripped away, the chops are often solid. What we have forgotten is smooth featured some killer players who would be great regardless of their chosen genre. With that idea in mind, we as jazz fans need to revaluate some of these records. There is no better representative than the late Grover Washington, Jr.'s 1974 masterpiece, Mister Magic.
The first record for anyone looking to hear a positive example of smooth is all here. Fused an R&B groove that is produced and arranged by future smooth mogul pianist Bob James, Mister Magic was a spotlight for one jazz's great sax players. Washington absolutely breathed a fluid and caressingly powerful style that was unique to him. Since the style called for easy playing, he could sit back and let the chops glide like water flowing down a river. His melodies and tone are always first rate, but there was a certain magic, if you will, to what this record has said about its artist. Many of the smooth players relied on the direct approach to playing and soloing, but Washington allowed his himself room to open up, and this where his music has the most to offer to the rest of jazz fans. Sure the polish is on there, but the solos are not afraid to take flight either.
The title track harnesses the chrome plated polish of this genre's sound and lets in the tasty bits. It starts out with a funk groove-did someone say Head Hunters?-and slowly builds into some finely gnarled solos by Grover and guitarist Eric Gale. It was a crossover hit that grooved the light rock AM crowd of the '70s and is still a great spin today.
This record is a lighter approach for those who are not willing to check the harder edged sounds that are deliciously spread over Steely Dan's records, but these jazzites don't need rock mixes. If you are still thinking I might be crazy, just think back to the 1980 hit with Bill Withers, "Just the Two of Us," on Washington's Winelight. Godammit, you want to blow it off as easy listening light rock, but that solo is mind blowing. There is a lot more where that came from. Just open up and let the light fluffy background groove fly away and you will be rewarded for your time with Grover Washington because he was truly one of the best we had.
All About Jazz

grover dies rew
Add Note:
In 1999, American jazz-funk, soul-jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr died of a heart attack aged 56. He collapsed in the green room after taping four songs for The Early Show, at CBS Studios in New York City, He released over 20 solo albums and featured on the 1981 Bill Withers hit ‘Just The Two of Us.’ Rest In Peace Grover.
The National R&B Music Society Inc.

"I'm thankful for the people who inspired me over the years: Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Stanley Turrentine, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Oliver Nelson. I would like to believe that some of the reason I've been around so long is that I don't do the same thing over and over-I like to grow, to keep adding another thread to my musical tapestry. I'm just staying true to the things that got me to play in the first place." ~ Grover Washington Jr.

On the Web:
All About Jazz
Dusty Groove

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